I find the story of Jonah and the whale is one of the more thought-provoking tales in the Bible.
I mean, dude spent a three-day weekend in the belly of a fish, which we often assume was a whale.
Every time I think about this all kinds of thoughts wonder into my mind.
Was this the same whale Geppetto and Pinocchio ended up in? Could they have bumped into each other in there? What would they have talked about? That time Pinocchio almost became a jackass? Wait, was Jonah made of wood?
Sorry, that’s just how my mind works most days, but you’re welcome Saturday Night Live.
Truth be told, I don’t think Jonah was made of wood, but I do think he turned into a jackass for a while.
Jonah got swallowed because he didn’t want to go and preach against the wickedness of the folks of Nineveh and a lot of times the message taught to us by this is, if God tells you to do something, you’d better do it. But I think there’s a deeper message here for us.
Now, I’m not saying if God tells you to specifically go somewhere, you shouldn’t. Let’s be real though, there are a super small percentage of folks in the Bible God does this with and even fewer now that we have the Bible to guide us. So odds are God isn’t ever going to you or I to specifically go somewhere and preach against some people.
I do, however, think God commands us to do what Jonah could not. He does command us to accept the fact that his grace is available to all people, regardless how wicked we think they are.
See, that was Jonah’s real beef about the situation. He knew God was a compassionate and figured God would forgive the people he hated, rather than destroy them, which by the way is exactly how it played out when the people of Nineveh turned from their ways.
Sometimes it’s really easy to write a person, or even a group of people, off because of the way they act. This is especially true when whate we see them do is a sin that isn’t a temptation for us. That makes it super easy for us to be all, “ew, those people are gross,” or “bad.”
True be told though, we’re all kind of gross or bad at some point. We’ve all been like the folks at Nineveh at some point, but that didn’t stop God from loving us and it didn’t stop him from offering us a chance to turn it around.
I’m not saying we have to like or agree with or celebrate people who are acting in an awful and sinful manner. I’m not saying you have to invite them to go with you on vacation. And I’m not saying you shouldn’t stand up against such acts.
But I am saying that we should always be open to even the worst of people receiving God’s grace, and should be willing to help them turn it around.
Granted, it’s not always the easiest attitude to maintain, but when we lose it, it’s a slippery slope until we start to look like jackasses.